From pigeon-toed to running excellence

Posted by Super Admin on Fri Jul 16th, 2010, No comments (be the first!)

I was born in 1955 in Auckland, New Zealand, to a teenage mother who gave me up for adoption. As I began to learn to walk, it was observed that I rolled outwardly on the sides and heels of my feet … very pidgeon-toed!

I had bone deformities which caused me pain around my big toes and prevented the natural heel/toe motion of walking. Doctors told my parents that they wanted to wait to see how it all developed before considering surgery.  As I grew, the deformities grew, making wearing normal shoes difficult. I went barefoot as much as possible and, fortunately, the Auckland climate is mild. However the cold temperatures of winter did make my feet ache terribly.

My parents did not own a car until I was 12 years old, so I walked two miles each way to school. I also suffered terrible headaches, which often resulted in days home from school.

Fast forward to age 13. The doctors said they would consider surgery. I was in the hospital for three weeks, and the surgery was very painful. When it came time to leave the hospital, the doctors said they had come up with a plan to help me gain a better walking gait as my feet healed. They were not going to give me crutches or a wheelchair. I was in plaster casts up to my knees, and they designed a black leather boot to attach to the bottom, under which was a wooden rocker, like a rocking horse.

Their idea was that as my feet were healing by me walking on them using these boots, I would gain the heel/toe motion of walking.

Now remember, I have had surgery that removed excess bone, and I still have all the stitches in my feet under those casts. It is the middle of summer. I was in so much pain and discomfort, not to mention starting high school.  It was a rough time, but these doctors had it right.  When the casts came off, my feet looked normal, and I had the heel/toe motion of walking.  I immediately found it was easier to run, but still fell back into my awkward walking style at times. I still do!  

After one year I asked my parents if I could join a track and field club. The sport was huge in New Zealand then. They were very hesitant but I persisted and found that I not only loved running, but was good at it. In those days women and girls were limited to a mile as the longest distance. In the Olympics the longest distance for women was the 800m.

As I proceeded, I noticed that I never got the headaches anymore and to this day have never had one again. I often wonder whether they were stress related, or if running was making me healthier, or both!

In the beginning, I often pushed my feet and myself too hard and would have to take breaks from running. I still preferred to go shoeless, and fortunately the majority of New Zealand tracks were grass. In follow-up visits with my doctors, they gave me a piece of advice that stayed with me my entire career:  “Run in the nearest thing possible to bare feet.  That is the only way you will keep your feet strong and working correctly.”

Fast forward to 1972. I qualified for my first of six Olympic Games, the 1500m in Munich Germany.

For the next 10 years, I competed for New Zealand in World Cross-County Championships, more Olympics and the British Commonwealth Games. The sport was amateur during those years, so after graduating from teachers college in 1975, I became an elementary school teacher.

Due to many factors, some out of my control, I decided to quit the sport in 1980 out of frustration and disappointment.
I was persuaded to begin again by my second coach John Davies, and the rest is history. I arrived in the USA in 1981, took the stand for professionalism in June of 1981 and soon after signed with Nike for $400 a month and free shoes! 

I went on to have a 22-year career, all the time remembering the advice from my doctors. Throughout my career, I raced and trained in racing flats, the lightest I could find. I never suffered any running related injuries.

At age 54 I am still running daily and still in racing flats. I totally believe that those doctors gave me a perfect running style. No heel strike at all.  I still love it.

Please see more information at http://www.anneaudain.com and www.runningherway.net 

 

Resources to help you master the Chi Running basics:

What are your thoughts?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Healthy Recipes image

Healthy Recipes

Shop and Eat Well

From grocery lists to yummy breakfasts and nutritious dinners, our Recipe Library can help get you started with good eating habits or rejuvenate your palate.

Find Recipes >
Home